Let’s bust the five biggest reasons why job titles are lame and misleading.
I’m going to number them as Bullsh*t’s (BS’s) because that’s what it is and that’s the level of seriousness we should take this.
In my personal opinion, these are some of the reasons why the job search and fit models are completely broken. Job Titles are full of biasses. What one Project Manager does in one job doesn’t mean they will do the same thing in another job. about job titles so that we can get past the title and get you into the job you were born to do!
BS #1: Picking Your “Title” in High-School
While it is unlikely that in most high schools you are choosing the title you want when you get into the workforce, there is a huge emphasis on picking a fairly specific career path so that you can set up your Grade 11 and 12 options to align you for university.
They start with personality testing and provide a list of potential options for 16 to 18 year olds to choose from. The reality of it is, not only will they likely have between 7 and 20 careers in their lives but also often this is where you see dreams crushed.
I recently heard of this starting in Grade 7, one girl in particular was devastated to find out that being an astronomer was no longer considered a real career by her school counsellors… but people are astronomers. Can you imagine picking your career path at the age of 13 based on what you are “good at” at that time in your life? It’s bulls*t!
Think about your High School experience and how this may have shaped your unfulfilling career choices.
BS #2: We Choose Sexy over Practical
I have seen this time and time again in my profession as a Career Coach. People from mid-twenties to mid-seventies choose job titles that they feel are sexy and flashy and important rather than focussing on what that actual role does from one day to the next.
A number of years ago I was speaking with an acquaintance that was going through a career change and emphasized the point that they really wanted to work with people. This person belonged in a good paying, frontline job with a focus on customer service.
What they choose to pursue instead was Legal Assistant work because it was a “good title” that people admired. Legal Assistants do a lot of typing, scheduling, and filing – very meaningful and admirable work but not a fit for this particular person. It is no surprise then, that he is completely unfulfilled in his position now.
In my corporate career of over ten years, I admittedly fell into this trap many times when I would go for sexy job titles like “manager”. It’s complete bulls*t!
BS #3: Job Titles are Misleading
Having held job titles of Administrator, Coordinator, Project Manager, Business Analyst, Training Manager, Communications Manager, Change Management Lead, and Career Coach I can tell you that the titles don’t always describe the work you do. In my case, all of them except for the Career Coach had daily tasks that were similar greater than 75% of the time.
Furthermore, the Administrator title is often seen as “just an admin” but these people actually get more diversity in their jobs and access to information than anyone else in the organization. Administration is one of the absolute most important job titles and job functions in any organization.
Of course, there is further confusion with those types of job titles. In government jobs Administrator is a high level leadership position – which also leads to my point on titles being misleading! Choosing a career based on what you “think” the job does is complete bulls*t! Instead look at the function of the role. What do they actually do!
BS #4: We Choose what we are Good At Rather than What we Like
From personal experience I have spent a lot of time doing things I was really good at. Writing corporate communications, data-entry, presenting on quality management systems for oil and gas pipeline construction projects. I was outstanding at all of these things; however, I hated every single one of them.
We do this a lot in life don’t we? Instead of doing what fills us up, we spend our time doing what we are good at. When our boss sees that we are good at something we get asked to do more of it, even if we completely hate it. There are many things that we may not be good at but that we can get better at, and some of those things we absolutely love! This is where we should be investing our 9 to 10 hours a day. Otherwise it’s utter bulls*t.
BS #5: Personality Tests that Provide A List of Job Titles
The problem with psychometric testing (personality profiling tools) – while very useful for many reasons – is that they often offer a list of job titles that you are supposed to be able to begin your job search with.
I have personally done well over 20 different types of psychometric testing; and while validating in the areas of working style, personality type, motivational type, colour, communication style – the job options were overwhelming!
Let me illustrate, below this article is a ridiculously long list of the type of jobs suggested to me when I scored as an ENFP (extraverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving) according to a Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment. The heading for this website page was “Popular Careers for ENFPs”… let me spare you, there are nearly 100 careers listed. Complete bulls*t.
Despite all my bullsh*tting titles are important in choosing a career eventually. They provide us with a language and a label; however, they should not be used to provide direction until after we have discovered what it is we want to spend 8, 9, 10 hours a day doing for 40 years of our lives. The day to day tasks are more relevant in this regard.
Here is that list I promised you. The list that an ENFP can choose from (what isn’t on this list?) Man, this makes the choice easy doesn’t it?
Arts and Entertainment
- Dancer or Choreographer
- Music Director or Composer
- Musician or Singer
- Producer or Director
- Art Director
- Craft or Fine Artist
- Fashion Designer
- Floral Designer
- Interior Designer
- Multimedia Artist
- Advertising Sales Agent
- Insurance Sales Agent
- Real Estate Agent
- Retail Salesperson
- Travel Agent
Service and Personal Care
- Animal Trainer
- Barber, Hairdresser, or Cosmetologist
- Child Care Worker
- Fitness Trainer
- Recreation Worker
- Skincare Specialist
- Waiter or Waitress
Media and Communication
- Public Relations Specialist
- Writer or Author
Science and Nature
- Anthropologist or Archaeologist
- Conservation Scientist
- Urban or Regional Planner
- Landscape Architect
- High School Teacher
- Instructional Coordinator
- Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher
- Middle School Teacher
- Preschool Teacher
- Special Education Teacher
- Teacher Assistant
- Preschool or Childcare Center Director
- Athletic Trainer
- Dental Assistant
- Dental Hygienist
- Genetic Counselor
- Massage Therapist
- Nurse Midwife
- Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
- Occupational Health and Safety Technician
- Occupational Therapist
- Occupational Therapy Assistant or Aide
- Physical Therapist
- Physical Therapist Assistant
- Recreational Therapist
- Speech-Language Pathologist
- Veterinary Technologist or Technician
Business and Management
- Human Resources Specialist
- Meeting or Convention Planner
- Training or Development Specialist
- Training or Development Manager
- Lodging Manager
- Public Relations Manager
- Sales Manager
- Advertising and Promotions Manager
- Human Resources Manager
- Customer Service Representative
- Legal Mediator
Community and Social Service
- Health Educator
- Mental Health Counselor
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- School or Career Counselor
- Social or Human Service Assistant
- Social Worker
- Substance Abuse or Behavioral Disorder Counselor
- Social or Community Service Manager
If you need a laugh about some funny but real job titles check out this blog on Social Talent… but actually, some of them are very accurate!
It’s time to start looking at Job Functions rather than Job Titles.
- What kind of experience to you want?
- What kind of service can you provide?
- What are the tasks you like to do?
- What tasks do you dislike?
In my company, I allow my team members to create their own job titles. The rules are:
- It has to be understandable by people out in the world?
- It has to represent he work you do?
- It can be fun and creative if you want it to be?
- If you want to call yourself the manager or director of something – go ahead? (Admittedly this is easier in smaller companies than in larger ones.)